Molecular Engineering for Optoelectronics

Conjugated polymers have fascinating optoelectronic properties that are unique to these semiconducting chains, and cannot be found in classical (metallic) semiconductors. Their properties, such as emission color or responsivity to external triggers can be designed and tailored by adjusting the monomer composition within the conjugated chain.  Small changes in molecular structure have a drastic effect on the optical properties of these materials.

Theory predicts that not only the composition of monomers in the chain, but also their exact sequence has a huge effect. While biological polymers (proteins, DNA) have a precise and well-defined sequency, synthetic conjugated polymers to date are made with a random distribution of different monomer groups.

In this project you will take the first steps towards a new chemical strategy to create sequence-controlled conjugated polymers, in which the exact sequence of monomer units in the chain can be designed a-priori.  You will synthesize and characterise the polymers and help design the most promising sequences. This approach opens up exciting new avenues to make polymers with molecularly-encoded spectral properties, which can bind and detect to specific analytes for biosensing, or which can recognize and self-organise in solution to create self-assembled electronic nanostructures.